The Birth of LocalWineEvents.com - By Randy Torban
April 22, 2008 ~ How one man saw a need for organization and created one of the most popular wine communities on the web.
Eric Orange is a pioneer in the age of online wine marketing and sales. His concept of an interactive way to help wine advocates find wine tastings not only came to fruition, but has grown to represent the number one place where people go to post and find wine events.
For some it is a portal through which industry leaders can market to customers in old and new markets; for others it is a well organized database filled with possible places to test-drive wines. And to think, it all started with the question, "how do I find out about wine events?"
Eric Orange, founder of LocalWineEvents.com.
Eric is no stranger to the wine world, having worked for an importer in Colorado, coordinating company wine dinners. As the wine dinners grew, so did the number of people interested in them. Wanting to give wine enthusiasts as much information as possible gave birth to LocalWineEvents on July 1, 2000. Eric has been a proud 'father' ever since. Now, in 2008, there are over 1,000 wine postings per week, a rise of 15-20% from last year. Eric explains this rise is due to so many new restaurants holding wine tastings, new wine festivals, and an increase in wine drinkers from the Mid-West. "Despite being beer drinkers, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Kansas are all regularly posting events."
It is no surprise that the wine business is on the rise -- there are more regions producing and new generations interested in learning abut wine. It makes sense for wine retailers and wine enthusiasts to come together on the internet -- "People are looking for things to do now, and unlike newspapers that need ample notice, things can be posted online in a matter of minutes." This also correlates to the buying and selling of wine online. Many people are still buying wine in stores instead of buying online. They want the bottles immediately, instead of waiting and comparing prices online. In order to have more online purchasing, consumers really need to see price savings. That is why sites that enable customers to compare prices are ahead of competitors. Eric, a Pennsylvania resident, buys his wine at the best price point he can find it - not always from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
Eric and Kate Orange have enjoyed the recent increase in wine events across the country.
So is the increase in wine events causing an increase in wine sales? Eric honestly doesn't know. "The majority of people just go to enjoy themselves," Eric says. Some people pay attention to what they are drinking, but most of them don't remember what they tried. This then begs the question of whether or not these wine events help to brand the wineries present. Eric feels that they do help reinforce brand loyalty amongst old markets, and helps market to new customers as well. But he does feel that these wineries and retailers are not doing enough to follow up with those from the events. "It is hard to follow up with customers from wine events; most (representatives) don't even think about it...but they should." The internet is a perfect place in which to do this -- connecting wine event attendees to the wines they just tasted.
Still, Eric enjoys watching the growing number of people using the web to search for wine and wine events. He hopes that with so many new events, ticket prices will stay low and the crowds won't get too big. For Eric, the best wine events are the intimate ones -- just like those he used to organize when creating LocalWineEvents.com.
Randy Torban is the Director of Business Development and contributing editor at ClassicWines.com